The following is a transcript of a radio address presented by Governor Janet Mills:
This Memorial Day weekend, we pause to remember the challenges our state and our nation have overcome in the past and reflect on the challenges we are overcoming today with courage as one people.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
These last fifteen months have been an extraordinarily difficult time for our country and for our state. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought pain, illness, unemployment, financial hardship, death and loss to many families.
As we reflect upon these hardships, Memorial Day also causes us to remember all that we have endured, fought for and survived throughout our history. “Still,” as Maya Angelou would say, “we rise.”
Memorial Day brings respect and a sense of history as we honor those who perished to preserve our country and to protect our freedoms. When I think of those who served their country, I think of the courage they showed in the toughest of times.
Forty-six years ago was the end of the Vietnam War which sent 48,000 Maine men and women to that far-off battleground and took the lives of more than 340 people from Maine.
Sixty-eight years we ago saw the end of the Korean conflict, “the forgotten war” so called, which took the lives of more than 33,000 Americans, including at least 244 Maine soldiers.
Seventy-six years ago this month was V-E Day, the fall of the Third Reich, and, later that year, the end of the Second World War, in which 80,000 Maine people served and more than 2,000 lost their lives.
Those Mainers – and many more – served and fought with determination and great hope for our collective future. A determination and hope that I respect and hold today.
Still, we rise.
Over the past fifteen months we’ve faced an enemy that is real, deadly but unseen, as sure a killer as any enemy we have fought in our history.
We fought this foe as a nation and as a state, not with soldiers huddled in bunkers but with social distancing, not with torpedoes but with face coverings. These have been our strange and novel armaments, our only sure ammunition against this deadly enemy. Still, we rise. We are winning this war too.
More than 70 percent of Maine people eligible have now had at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. More than half of all our people, including children not yet eligible, are fully vaccinated. Something to celebrate today. Our rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to fall. That is nation-leading progress and it is because of you, the people of Maine.
You have rolled up your sleeves to protect yourselves and the people whose names you may not even know — the people you meet on the street; people who work in the restaurant, the packing plant or the store; the nurses, doctors and folks who care for the sick; and the veteran who deserves to live the remainder of his or her heroic life with health and happiness, not to be felled by a painful contagion far from family and friends.
Boy we have faced great odds this last year, as generations of Americans have before us. Still, we rise.
We have the same hope and the same faith in the future, the same commitment to community that drove our predecessors not only to serve and survive against all odds, but to rise again, a unified people, a unified nation.
The hope of our past and the renewed faith in our future are with us this Memorial Day weekend.
As we gather together with friends and family for the first time in such a long time, putting isolation and fear behind us, let us celebrate and show our great love for our state and our nation and for all of those who have endured so much and lost so much.
Let us honor with reverence all those who have faithfully served our state and our nation in the Armed Forces and those who gave, as President Lincoln said, ‘the last full measure of devotion’. Still, we have not only endured, we have survived, and still we rise.
To all those who have served and to all those who continue to serve our country: our hearts are with you this Memorial Day, 2021.
God bless you. God bless the State of Maine.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.